How To Manage a Remote Team (Especially During a Pandemic!)

Managing a team of employees is hard. Add in a global pandemic with all of your employees working from home and the job is even harder. In a new remote world, how can you make sure that you are still leading effectively?

In today’s article, we will break down how to manage a remote team and how these methods can be used even when employees head back to the office. Don’t be afraid to try new management techniques. Realize that the ways of doing business have vastly changed and the more you can learn and stay up to date, the better your team will be! 

Be Empathetic

The first thing to try and understand is that you and your employees are navigating unknown waters. When you are used to working in an office environment with a 9 to 5 schedule, never leaving your home is a big adjustment! When you add in children at home doing virtual school, taking care of pets, and limited bandwidth it is even harder to keep the same schedule you had while at the office. 

Try to understand and anticipate the potential problems your employees may face. Talk to them regularly about how they are doing both with their workload and emotionally. When you show compassion for their situation you will see more open and honest communication.

Learn How to Communicate Effectively

One of the hardest parts about remote work is the lack of communication between a manager and employees. Managers tend to feel like they don’t know what an employee is working on and employees feel like they are not being effectively led. How can you fix this problem so that all parties are being heard?

Proper communication is key for fostering healthy remote relationships. When you don’t have the luxury of walking over to someone in the office to ask them a question, here are a few new ways of communicating to a remote schedule:

  • Start the day with a video conference: Even if it is only for 15 minutes, having the whole team in one place is an easy way to check-in and communicate daily goals.
  • Individual weekly check-ins: Communicating one on one with your team members can be highly effective. You can set out weekly expectations and make sure that things aren’t falling behind. 
  • Prioritize communication: Check-in frequently through email or slack. For some employees, that might be easier than a video call. 

Reinforce Office Hours

It’s easy for employees to get burned out working from home. Reinforce that the day starts at 9 and ends at 5. Encourage employees to stop working when the day ends. You might think you are getting more out of employees who want to work overtime, but the quality of work will be less because they are stressed and overworked. 

Take Advantage of Digital Tools

In our digital world, we have access to thousands of tools that make work easier and more efficient. Take advantage of these tools and use them to manage your team better. 

  • Project management: Having an interface for all employees to be able to track projects they are working on and track time is essential. A few of the big ones are Asana, Jira, ClickUp, and Basecamp
  • Video conferencing: By now you probably know that you need to have a reliable video conferencing service, but with the amount of them out there which one is the best for your team? Try out different ones and see which suits your team best. Here are a few ones to try: Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, and GoTo Meeting.

Keep All-Time High Quality

When you are unprepared for meetings, your employees can get easily frustrated. They are already having a hard time managing their time and meetings that are unneeded or poorly managed can feel like a waste of time. Make sure that you always have an agenda for meetings, stick to the plan, and keep things moving along. Don’t schedule a meeting for something that could easily be said over email. 

Regularly Energize Your Team

When working remotely, burnout can happen easily and often. This year has been beyond heavy and people are dealing with issues that have no solutions. Mental fog and a new term ‘pandemic fatigue’ are affecting all workers even when on the outside things look fine. What do you do when the whole world is tired?

With this in mind, make a plan to energize your team. Schedule lunch and learns, host virtual happy hours, and take time to get to know one another as people not just as coworkers. Don’t let meetings become boring, always share success stories, and divide long projects into sprints. These events can help your employees get over the slump they are in and motivate them to continue the hard work.

What To Do When Employees Return 

For most teams, remote work won’t last forever. When you end up returning to the office don’t abandon the lessons you learned and the tools you gained. Expert communication and keeping your team engaged are essential parts of effective leadership. Everyone has been through a lot over the past year and it’s important to not forget that and instead learn from how the pandemic and remote work has shaped our future.